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Jessica (HDB)

I'm a bookworm of the highest caliber! If you see me, I'll probably be reading. There's nothing I love more than finding a good book, and then sharing it with the world!

The Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee Stewart

The Secret Keepers - Diana Sudyka, Trenton Lee Stewart

Trenton Lee Stewart had me charmed with The Mysterious Benedict Society. I fell in love with the quick moving, fluid and well-written story line that unfolded on the pages. To say I had high hopes for The Secret Keepers would be an understatement, which probably contributed to disappointment. This book isn't quite up to bar that I had set for it.

First off, this book is honestly much longer than it should be. It stretches the story out to the point where, quite often, there is nothing actually happening on the pages. I can absolutely forgive a book for starting out slowly, as the background and characters are set in place. This book, however, never actually picks up speed. It meanders along, at a plodding pace, to the point that I skimmed a fair amount of pages per chapter and didn't feel like I'd missed anything. The story line itself is solid, and interesting. It's just bogged down by the length it needs to fill.

I also just never fell in love with our main character. Reuben never felt brave to me, only foolhardy and impulsive. While I could see Stewart trying valiantly to outline the reasons why Reuben behaved as he did, it still never felt truthful to me. I'm absolutely enamored with the idea of a boy who loves his mother so much he'd do anything to protect her. Past that, however, it just fell apart for me. I admit that Penny did increase my interest for a while though. So there's that! She's a little spitfire.

Whenever I read a book that is aimed at the Middle Grade crowd, I always try to think about it from that perspective as well. After working with that age of children for many years, and being an avid reader myself well before that age group, I feel comfortable settling myself back into that mindset. That being said, this book doesn't seem like one that would capture their imaginations. It lacks excitement. It was missing that piece that keeps you riveted, tearing through the pages to find out what happens next. Even the ultimate confrontation, the big climax, didn't really come through. Both Middle Grade Jessica and adult Jessica would have felt that lack of real energy. I'd love to recommend this one, but I really can't. Go forth and get lost in the charming world of The Mysterious Benedict Society instead.

BookLikes is up?

 

This is Luna's surprised face, which exactly mirrors my own. Well, you know, minus the adorable puppy dog ears and nose. Eh, you all know she's cuter than me. I admit it.

 

Anyway, yay! I missed this site. I missed all of you. I'm one of those diehard people who will keep trying here, and keep stubbornly loading it, until it officially dies. I love this site, and have too much invested in it, to give up on it. Call me crazy, but that's the truth.

 

I've literally been a member of BookLikes since it first launched. I came here when there was a very small amount of people, and actively wrote posts and tweets to try to get people to come and join us. I think it's the best site for bookish people, it just needs a lot of love and coding work. So to all the people out there in the background of BL who are promising to code the heck out of things and fix this site, please please do. Don't let us down. I know there are tons of other people out there who agree with me, but I'm telling you from the bottom of my heart that I LOVE THIS SITE and I honestly can't picture my bookish life without it.

 

I'm tentatively excited! Cozy Swap will go on as planned, and I'll try to start getting some more reviews up.

 

Oh, and Luna pictures. Always Luna pictures.

So Luna's hoodie finally came! Alas, it was actually TOO BIG. *cries* First too small, now too big. This dog is at that weird adolescent stage of her life, where she isn't as big as she will be but is still growing at an alarming rate. Needless to say, I kept it. It will fit her within the next 6 months. In the meantime I found another sweater at Marshalls that she's wearing when she's outside. Huzzah!

 

P.S. My hubby says to tell you that he has nicknamed her "gangsta dog" because of her hoodie. You can feel free to totally ignore this. *snickers*

The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma

The Walls Around Us - Nova Ren Suma

Hmmm... I still don't really know exactly how I feel about this book, and I've been mulling it over for a few hours now. Admittedly, I didn't read the blurb before starting The Walls Around Us. I simply noticed that it had a ton of love thrown at it, plus that I hadn't yet reviewed it as a NetGalley book, and decided to make it my next read. It's nice to go in with no preconceived notions, and just really let a book sweep me away. This one just didn't do that as easily as I expected it to.

 

The base story, the story that goes back and forth between the calculating Violet and the slightly lost Amber, was pretty spot on for me. I loved this story of two girls, in such different circumstances, each facing the truth trapped inside themselves. It's tough to imagine such young girls committing any type of atrocities, but Nova Ren Suma weaves this story that makes you feel for them. It makes you understand, even if you don't necessarily forgive.

 

What lost me, and what I afterwards realized was in the synopsis, was the "ghostly" aspect of this book. It's difficult to explain without spoiling anything, and I absolutely want to leave this vague for anyone still interested in this book, but this portion of the book just felt like it was missing something. I can't put my finger on what, exactly. It was like at some point the book wandered off into the forest, and I lost track of it in the trees. After the first few chapters, I had already figured out the main plot points that were to come. So the "mystery" aspect of this wasn't really there for me. Plus I all but despised Violet. So I didn't care all that much if something terrible were to come her way.

 

Then there was the ending. Which, although it actually did fit with the book as whole, really felt unsatisfying to me. I was confused at first. Then, after reading through it at second time, I finally understood what had happened. Still, I didn't feel like it was what I wanted. Redemption is great. Revenge is understandable. This, however, was really confusing. I'm sure there are plenty out there who will appreciate the vagueness of it all. I really wanted solid closure though.

 

So, I'm going to settle this right at 3 stars. If anything, I'm going to say that this book has peaked my interest in terms of Nova Ren Suma as an author. This is the first book of hers that I have read, and now that I see how solidly she can build characters, I'm intrigued so see what else is out there. Rest assured, this all my opinion. As I mentioned above, there is a ton of love for this book and I see a lot of things other people will love. It just wasn't exactly what I was looking for.

Cozy Up Swap 2016

 

Our first box swap of 2016 was a success!

 

We had 7 participants, and I think everyone was pretty darn happy with what they received from one another. It's a lot of fun to shop, and equally as fun to receive!

 

So much fun, in fact, that we're doing it again.

 

Come on over and join us if you'd like to be part of the Cozy Up Swap!

 

All things cozy, comfy, and bookish are totally allowed.

Reblogged from Jessica (HDB)

General Comic Bingo - Update #2 and BINGO!

 

And, A Vs. X kicked me up into my first bingo! WOOHOO! I have to say, that was a pretty fun crossover event for the "Special Events" square. I'm so glad that Grim suggested it, especially after Silk and I weren't exactly cool with one another.

 

The plan now is to read The Graveyard Book graphic novel, for the "Based Off A Book" square (since I own it) and then go from there!

 

THIS IS SO FUN!

Reading progress update: I've read 210 out of 568 pages.

Avengers vs. X-Men - Jason Aaron, Ed Brubaker, Brian Michael Bendis

So, I think it's a good thing that I never read "special events" or "crossovers", because I'm coming into this with no prior experience at all. Which means, despite a lot of dislike spewed at this comic event, I'm actually really enjoying it!

 

Much love to Grim for suggesting this for my current bingo square. I'm not a huge fan of the art change, but hey... who doesn't want to watch superheroes fight?

My last Luna spam... for now.... muahahaha.

 

She experienced her first real rainstorm, and I cracked up laughing watching her. She tried to bite the rain, then ran back and forth in and out of it, then finally decided that it wasn't going to murder her and started chasing her ball around in it.

 

At the end I had a very wet, very tired, puppy. She got a bath and promptly passed out. I think rainstorms are my new best friends.

Silk Vol. 1: Sinister

Silk Vol. 1: Sinister - Robbie Thompson, Stacey Covington-Lee

Oh look, an actual review! I'm so far behind on these, mainly because I was too lazy to write anything for a while. I took a week and a half off of blogging too, because I just wasn't feeling it. Forcing yourself to write, when you don't feel like it, is painful.

 

So anyway, Silk.

 

I've never met Cindy Moon before, so I have no opinion on whether this new series is any better/worse than her old ones. What I can say, is that this felt choppy at the best of times. Cindy has that quirky, adorable vibe going on but at the same time the choppiness of this story arc made it harder for me to attach myself to her. It was also jarring for this to pop in right after she'd had this long sought after reunion with her brother, and then rushing to catch the reader up on what happened that wasn't on the page.

 

Loved the fact that Black Cat and Mockingbird were in this issue but, again, it just pushed so much into one story arc. I guess (because I've never read it) that Secret Wars happened right between the first volume of this (volume 0) and this one. So a lot was cut out/alluded to in Secret Wars.

 

Add in the fact that the artist changed part way through, not for the better I might add, and you have a comic that just didn't do it for me. It was entertaining, but not my thing. I'm going to stick to Daredevil for all of my street level hero needs!

Jedi Luna is reporting for duty.

 

In all seriousness though, does anyone know a place to get sweaters for big dogs that have wide chests? Poor Luna is chilly, because her coat isn't very thick, and every sweater I've tried on her strained across her wide chest. I need help from my fellow large dog owners! LOL.

Comic Bingo - Update #1

 

I wanted to come and post this on Monday, but the site was so slow I gave up. Since it's relatively behaving itself, here is me trying again!

 

I'm working my way through the General Comic Book Bingo card, albeit slower than I wanted to. It took me a lot longer to read New X-Men than I thought, although I'm not sad about it. Grant Morrison's comics usually do take me a little more time to absorb.

 

Quick updates on these:

 

I Hate Fairyland continues to be absolutely amazing. I have both volumes (since I buy single issues) and the second story arc is even better than the first! Skottie Young is the man!

 

Feathers was an unexpected delight! I found it on a whim, through my library's new comic lending system. It was fun, full of adventure, and even had a great moral to it all.

 

New X-Men is totally interesting. I only finished the first volume for this bingo, but I'm going to keep reading through Morrison's story arcs. Apparently it goes downhill after he stops writing it, so I've got 7 more to go :).

 

Next up:

 

I'm thinking of starting the new Silk series for the "Street Level" square! We'll see. I may be derailed by more Daredevil. I love me some Daredevil.

The Boy Is Back by Meg Cabot

The Boy Is Back - Meg Cabot

I'm a newbie to the "The Boy" series, which I honestly feel may have contributed to why this book and I didn't click as much as I wanted it to. I fully admit that I didn't do my research to find out that this book was the fourth in a series so, although Meg Cabot does do a valiant job of trying to bring new readers in, I spent the first few chapters feeling a little bit lost. Becky and Reed's story took off right from the beginning, which I'm certain is going to make fans of this series extremely happy. There isn't a moment to waste, as Meg Cabot dives into these characters and their own particular brands of quirkiness.

Now let me say that Meg Cabot's writing always shines, no matter what book she is writing. She has this uncanny ability to write stories that are equal parts melodramatic and heartbreaking. This book was no exception. Although a majority of this story is written through text messages, email threads, online reviews and journal entries, I could still feel the personalities of the characters shining through. They were funny, a bit cliche at times, but always felt like real, genuinely flawed people. I admit, it made me want to go back and read the first books in this series. My need to know their backstory is strong.

On the flip side, my gripe with this method of story telling is that the scenes themselves didn't get as much love. While Cabot was able to show the personalities of the characters through their digital banter, the important scenes in this story didn't get the same benefit. These exchanges were short, and flew by, making it so that there wasn't as much depth as I would have liked. The idea here was wonderful. Two old flames, rediscovering one another. I'm a sucker for that type of story. Unfortunately, although I loved their exchanges, I didn't feel the same kind of love for their actual physical relationship. I wanted that sappy, descriptive kind of writing that makes you want to swoon. I missed that here.

So, The Boy Is Back fell right on that middle line for me. I enjoyed the characters, despite feeling lost at first, but I really wanted more from the overall story. I've heard that the first books in this series were more focused on emails, versus today's use of social media, and that makes me want to go back and compare. I feel like the difference is in the amount of emotion that can be poured into a more lengthy exchange, like an email, versus a short text. So I'm definitely wanting to go out and see if I'm right.

If you're a fan of this series though, I'm sure you'll love this installment! Like I said above, it takes off instantly, so you won't have to wait long to see what your favorite characters are up to now.

The Fireman by Joe Hill

The Fireman: A Novel - Joe Hill

Well now, Joe Hill has thrown me for a bit of a loop with The Fireman. It fascinates me that he has managed to write an entirely different sort of book than I expected, and yet it still has me entirely enraptured. This book was excellent, and further proves to me that Hill's books will always be an auto-add to my reading list.

If you want to know a secret about me, I'm thoroughly intrigued by the concept of group think. The fact that people have the ability to completely lose themselves in fanaticism is terrifying and yet fascinating. Hill already had me sold with the idea of the Dragonfire sparking the end of the world. When he took it a step further, into the territory of cult behavior, I was helpless to look away.

Better still, are the somewhat paranormal elements that play a part in this story. Harper's story already had me hooked. A pregnant woman, burning from the inside out, caught up in a place where the people aren't at all who they seem. Then she was introduced fully to John, the fireman, and everything took on a whole new sheen. There was no possible way I was going to be able to resist this story. It grabbed my emotions by the reins and pulled. Hard. I was immersed from beginning to end.

Let's be honest, I already knew I was going to enjoy this book. What really impressed me was how much I enjoyed it, despite it not being at all what I expected. I was anticipating horror. I got that, for sure. Just not quite in the manner I was expecting. Hill is teaching me that sometimes the horror that people can create is often much more terrifying than any monster could ever be. Long story short, this was great. It needs a spot on your reading list.

Kubrick's Game by Derek Taylor Kent

Kubrick's Game - Derek Taylor Kent, Lane Diamond, Lina Rivera

Do you ever read a book, and end up feeling slightly jealous at how much smarter the characters are than you? Well, prepare to feel that way when you pick up Kubrick's Game. Derek Taylor Kent has woven a story that is full to the brim with puzzles. Shawn and his friends are lead through twists, and turns, all tying into this insane game that focuses solely around Stanley Kubrick's movies. If you're a fan of books that make you ponder, then this one is definitely for you.

First off, I need to point out the fact that Kent obviously knows a lot about Kubrick and his cinematic legacy. Each and every part of this story is like a love letter to that creator, and his works. As Shawn delves deeper into the mystery surrounding this game, more and more love is given to the puzzle itself. There are so many clues, expertly created to lead right into the next. My head was spinning after the first few had been uncovered. As a person who has definitely seen Kubrick's movies, but isn't a raving fan, I can say that this book definitely prompted me to want to watch them again. I keep wondering if I can pinpoint all the clues myself.

Which of course, means that this book picks up speed and then won't let you slow down. Shawn was put in some fairly terrifying situations, all in the name of solving the mystery. I'll be honest, I didn't like him much at first. His blunt personality, and inability to understand relationships annoyed me a bit. Following him through this puzzle though soon made me appreciate his particular brand of focus. He was able to pull himself away from situations, and really see into what he needed to do next.

The absolute only reason that I rated this four stars, rather than five, was the fact that the ending felt rushed to me. After so much build up, so many puzzles cracked, and so much time with Shawn, I couldn't help but feel like the ending came and went without a big finish. There are strong ties to all manner of conspiracy theories here, and I would have loved to see some more of those really coming life. The villains here just felt flat, and I wanted more.

Overall though? This book was fairly fantastic. As I said, it's a testament to how well written this puzzle is that I was always five steps behind Shawn. He is a brilliant mind. I'll just step away, and let him do his thing.

Luna says she's available for belly rubs if anyone needs some puppy love. She knew I was upset this morning and kept whining at me to snuggle her. She's a pretty good snuggler.

Cozy Up Swap 2016

 

Our first box swap of 2016 was a success!

 

We had 7 participants, and I think everyone was pretty darn happy with what they received from one another. It's a lot of fun to shop, and equally as fun to receive!

 

So much fun, in fact, that we're doing it again.

 

Come on over and join us if you'd like to be part of the Cozy Up Swap!

 

All things cozy, comfy, and bookish are totally allowed.